Oh, what a feeling. Last week’s news was dominated by coverage of national politics, Hurricane Florence, and the random mayhem we experience in our society. However, thanks to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the general public and business owners also received some very positive news about the economy that made national headlines. Just in case you missed it, the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose to 108.8 in August, a new record in the survey’s 45-year history. The monthly survey results are summed up in a simple, yet powerful headline, “Small Business Optimism Shatters Record Previously Set 35 Years Ago.”
If you’re wondering, what’s behind the optimism small business owners are feeling, the NFIB report says the “record breaking figure is driven by small business owners executing on the plans they’ve put in place due to dramatic changes in the nation’s economic policy. The August survey showed:
- Job creation plans and unfulfilled job openings both set new records
- The percentage of small business owners saying it is a good time to expand tied the May 2018 all-time high.
- Inventory investment plans were the strongest since 2005 and capitol spending plans the highest since 2007
Critical Shortage of Workers
Business is definitely galloping along at a swift pace and small businesses are leading the charge. Yet, competing for qualified employees is a major challenge for home improvement retailers and small business owners when the economy is thriving and unemployment is low. “Small business is booming in this country and the need for workers is critical,” says Juanita Duggan, President and CEO of (NFIB). Here are a few other noteworthy observations mentioned in the report:
- 25 percent of business owners ranked finding a qualified applicant as their single most important business problem
- 23 percent of business owners plan to create new jobs
- 24 percent plan to hire additional employees
- 62 percent of owners report an increase in efforts to hire
Competing for Great Employees
Home Improvement retailers know that one of the advantages they have over big box stores and online retailers is the ability to build loyal relationships with their customers and having an in-depth knowledge of the products they sell. So, hiring new employees with personalities that meet the needs of your business and retaining current employees is a key factor to operating a successful business.
But, how do you hire qualified employees in a tight job market? One recommendation is to hire people based on their personality and an ability to learn the inner-workings of your business. Remember, no one is born “qualified” and the description is often subjective based on the preferences of the individuals involved in the hiring process.
However, if you are willing to invest the time to develop someone who is talented and has a great personality, in all likelihood you will end up with a great employee. Receiving the proper training enables the person to focus on vital aspects of your business and those tasks you have identified as being most important for them to perform effectively. Hiring an individual who is outgoing and loves interacting with people, predisposes them to be
passionate about customer service.
Granted, this approach to hiring new employees may not be for everyone. If you prefer seasoned veterans, it’s best to be specific with job titles and descriptions for each position. This will help you during the interview process and establish criteria to measure accountability after the person has been hired. Someone who is already in the business knows the ropes and will require less training. Plus, based on previous experiences, they can easily manage dealing with customers in unexpected situations.
Promoting a Positive Work Environment
It’s important to treat employees with dignity and respect. When employees are treated poorly, it’s no longer a well-kept secret. Everyone now has access to the anonymous “horror stories” that are posted on social media or are spread by word-of-mouth. When you advertise for a new hire, share the positive aspects of working for your business. Use powerful words that grab attention and would motivate someone to respond to the ad.
Don’t get hung up on the salary you pay. While it’s important to pay competitive wages, research shows that money is not the key factor that motivates most employees. Working in an environment that promotes a sense of belonging and recognizes individual efforts to contribute to the success of the business is even more important to employees. If you can build a positive environment, you’ll develop a strong retail team and create a win-win scenario for you and your employees.
Leverage the Good News
One of the great things about this business is that retailers are so willing to share advice and insights to help other small businesses succeed. Be sure to read the complete results of the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index at https:///www.nfib.com.
And, if you’re in the market to hire more employees, keep my advice in mind. Hopefully, it will move you one step closer to landing a great employee.